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'Mai pen rai' on our roads means death

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Little pickup truck overloaded with 350 boxes of ceramic tiles, drops them all over the highway causing accidents & traffic jam, fined only 500 baht. 

After van hits 10-wheel truck rescue workers attempt to cut open a wrecked passenger van to retrieve the body of the van’s driver Damnoen Janaprom, 56.. Seven other people were injured in the accident. (Photo: Piyarach Chongcharoen)

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COMMENTARY

'Mai pen rai' on our roads means death

25 Apr 2013
Krissana Parnsoonthorn

Last weekend, I was stuck on Kanchanaphisek western ring road in the Bang Bua Thong area for almost an hour without knowing why the traffic was so terrible.

It was about 11am and the sun was very strong. I was very frustrated with this unexpected situation and saw drivers close to me were also annoyed at having to wait in the gridlocked line of cars. Finally, I was able to move a little bit further ahead until I passed the scene of an accident.

On the road was a huge pile of ceramic tiles. Nearby was a pickup truck with a blown tyre. Police and Pathum Thani rescue staff were trying to clear the mess from the road so the traffic could flow.

It was a heavy job to move away the ceramic debris in a short period of time under the baking sun. I felt sorry for these people.

When I arrived home, I looked up the pickup truck accident on the internet. I found a news report saying a pickup overloaded with ceramic floor tiles - up to 350 boxes worth 100,000 baht from Saraburi province - had lost its load.

Wow! I was amazed that a one-tonne pickup could carry such a heavy load.

One of the truck's rear tyres exploded under the weight of the tiles. Most of the ceramic tiles were left scattered on the ring road. It was lucky nobody was hurt. The pickup driver was fined 500 baht for reckless driving.

Do you think this driver should have been fined such a small sum of money? Shouldn't he be responsible for the expense of cleaning up the ceramic debris from the road? Shouldn't he also be responsible for the additional energy costs incurred by drivers of other vehicles caught in the traffic congestion.

I do not intend to attack this guy. I just want to point out there are similar cases like this on our roads every day. With little punishment, or none at all, many motorists do not care about the law and drive irresponsibly.

Nobody wants to have an accident. But the tyre explosion in this case came about because the 28-year-old man overloaded his pickup. He knew it was not sensible to do this - he should have used a bigger truck to deliver his goods.

One thing I was curious to know was how he could escape the attention of the police. He was driving from Saraburi to Bangkok, which is a long journey. His final destination was somewhere on Phutthamonthon Sai 2 Road.

I guess he probably figured that if he was arrested by police, he would only have to pay a small fine and drive on. Unlike Western countries, the fines here are not high and driving laws are not strict. Moreover, the police can be persuaded to let transgressors go, often in return for a bribe.

When the road laws are not tough and the penalties not heavy, motorists are simply not afraid to violate traffic laws. Worse, police are not serious about law enforcement

This mai pen rai attitude and lack of respect for the law helps explain why Thailand has such a high incidence of road accidents.

According to the Department of Land Transport, the number of deaths on the roads between Sept 30, 2011, to Sept 30, 2012 was 7,784. This was an improvement from the previous year's figure of 8,305.

Though the country has made progress in reducing the death toll, the number of vehicles will increase significantly this year due to the first-car buyer scheme

As of Dec 31, 2012, Bangkok had 2.97 million personal cars, 1.08 million pickup trucks and 2.84 million motorcycles. The rest of Thailand had 2.88 million passenger cars, 4.34 million pickup trucks and 16.17 million motorcycles.

Let's look at the road accident figures during the Songkran holidays, from April 11 to 17. Three hundred and twenty one people died and more than 3,000 people were injured across the nation.

I think it's everyone's duty to help reduce road accidents. Motorists should drive more responsibly and the police should step up law enforcement. And lawmakers, will you revise the laws to improve road safety and introduce more effective enforcement?

I hope to drive on safer roads in my lifetime.

Krissana Parnsoonthorn is Deputy Business Editor, Bangkok Post.

(Source: Bangkok Post, COMMENTARY, 'Mai pen rai' on our roads means death, 25 Apr 2013, Krissana Parnsoonthorn, link


Road Safety Vocabulary

road traffic safety - (See Wikipedia)

'Mai pen rai' on our roads means death

traffic - the number traveling to a place during a period of time (people, aircraft, ships, trains, cars, trucks, etc.) ความหนาแน่นของจำนวนคน หรือยานพาหนะในช่วงเวลาใดช่วงเวลาหนึ่ง

terrible traffic - meaning: so many cars on the road, so cars are moving slowly
the traffic is so terrible

Last weekend, I was stuck on Kanchanaphisek western ring road in the Bang Bua Thong area for almost an hour without knowing why the traffic was so terrible

gridlock -
when cars and traffic are not moving at all; very heavy traffic  รถติด
gridlocked line of cars


scene - the place where something happened สถานที่เกิดเหตุ, ที่เกิดเหตุ
the scene of an accident

frustrated - feeling annoyed and impatient because you are prevented from achieving something ผิดหวัง,ท้อแท้ใจมาก  หงุดหงิดใจ
annoyed - feeling slightly angry or impatient รู้สึกรำคาญใจ

It was about 11am and the sun was very strong. I was very frustrated with this unexpected situation and saw drivers close to me were also annoyed at having to wait in the gridlocked line of cars. Finally, I was able to move a little bit further ahead until I passed the scene of an accident.

ceramic - made from clay (example: a ceramic pot or plate) เครื่องปั้นเผา, เซรามิก  
ceramic tiles

huge - very big
pile - mound, heap พะเนิน, กองพะเนิน, พะเนินเทินทึก, ของมากกองสุมกันขึ้นไปจนสูง
huge pile of ceramic tiles

a blown tyre - a tire that is ripped open and loses air quickly
a pickup truck with a blown tyre

On the road was a huge pile of ceramic tiles. Nearby was a pickup truck with a blown tyre.

rescue - to save someone form a dangerous or unpleasant situation ช่วยชีวิต
staff - workers, employees; people who work for a company or organisation พนักงาน
rescue staff

flow - moving along without stopping
traffic flows

mess  - when something is dirty and not organized, not in good order ความสกปรก, ความสับสน, ความไม่เป็นระเบียบ, ความยุ่งเหยิง
clear mess - clean the mess up; when someone takes away all the dirty things or unorganized things
clear the mess from the road so the traffic could flow.

Police and Pathum Thani rescue staff were trying to clear the mess from the road so the traffic could flow.

debris - broken pieces that are left when something large has been destroyed เศษ ซากปรักหักพัง ซากสิ่งของที่ถูกทำลาย
ceramic debris

It was a heavy job to move away the ceramic debris in a short period of time under the baking sun.

feel sorry for - feel sad about something that happened to someone or their bad situation (and wish them luck that it will change)
I felt sorry for these people.

load - to put a lot of things into a vehicle or machine ใส่,บรรจุ
a truck's load

the truck lost its load
I was amazed that a one-tonne pickup could carry such a heavy load.

When I arrived home, I looked up the pickup truck accident on the internet. I found a news report saying a pickup overloaded with ceramic floor tiles - up to 350 boxes worth 100,000 baht from Saraburi province - had lost its load.

rear - back ด้านหลัง
rear tyres 

explode - to fly apart in pieces like a bomb ระเบิด
rear tyres exploded

scattered - spread over a large area กระจัดกระจาย
scattered on the road
ceramic tiles scattered on the road

reckless - done without being careful (without protecting you and others from harm) สะเพร่า
reckless driving

One of the truck's rear tyres exploded under the weight of the tiles. Most of the ceramic tiles were left scattered on the ring road. It was lucky nobody was hurt. The pickup driver was fined 500 baht for reckless driving.

sum - an amount of something, especially money จำนวนเงิน
a sum of money
a small sum of money

congestion - a situation in which a place is crowded with people or vehicles; many in a small space แน่นขนัดไปด้วยรถหรือคน
traffic congestion

vehicles - machines with an engine used to carry people or goods from place to place ยานพาหนะ
vehicles caught in the traffic congestion

Do you think this driver should have been fined such a small sum of money? Shouldn't he be responsible for the expense of cleaning up the ceramic debris from the road? Shouldn't he also be responsible for the additional energy costs incurred by drivers of other vehicles caught in the traffic congestion

intend - to plan to do; to want to happen ตั้งใจให้เกิดขึ้น, วางแผนไว้
I do not intend to - I am not planning to do this ....

irresponsibly
- not doing something carefully, acting dangerously possibly hurting people ลอย ๆ, เผละ, ไม่เป็นที่เป็นทาง เช่น โยนเผละ ทิ้งเผละ
drive irresponsibly


I do not intend to attack this guy. I just want to point out there are similar cases like this on our roads every day. With little punishment, or none at all, many motorists do not care about the law and drive irresponsibly.


Nobody wants to have an accident. But the tyre explosion in this case came about because the 28-year-old man overloaded his pickup. He knew it was not sensible to do this - he should have used a bigger truck to deliver his goods.

attention -
to see something, to notice something สมาธิ, ความสนใจ, ความใส่ใจ
escape the attention of
escape the attention of the police

destination
- the place where someone or something is going จุดหมายปลายทาง
One thing I was curious to know was how he could escape the attention of the police. He was driving from Saraburi to Bangkok, which is a long journey. His final destination was somewhere on Phutthamonthon Sai 2 Road.

fine - an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law ค่าปรับ
pay a small fine to police

strict - very careful and exact เข้มงวด
driving laws are not strict

persuaded - to change what people think by giving them reasons
bribe - money or a present given to someone so that they will help you doing something dishonest or illegal สินบน  ติดสินบน

persuaded to let transgressors go in return for a bribe.

guess
I guess ...

I guess he probably figured that if he was arrested by police, he would only have to pay a small fine and drive on. Unlike Western countries, the fines here are not high and driving laws are not strict. Moreover, the police can be persuaded to let transgressors go, often in return for a bribe.

tough - difficult to do or to deal with ยาก  ยากลำบาก
the road laws are not tough

penalties - บทลงโทษ
the penalties not heavy

violate - to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement ฝ่าฝืนกฎหมาย  ละเมิดกฏหมาย
violate traffic laws
motorists are simply not afraid to violate traffic laws

enforcement - making sure a law is obeyed and punishing people if it is not obeyed บังคับใช้กฎหมาย
police are not serious about law enforcement

When the road laws are not tough and the penalties not heavy, motorists are simply not afraid to violate traffic laws. Worse, police are not serious about law enforcement

attitude - the way you think and feel about something, as shown in behaviour
mai pen rai attitude

lack - does not have ขาดแคลน
respect - to accept the importance of someone's rights or customs

lack of respect - not having respect
lack of respect for the law

incidence - how much some event or situation happens at some place
high incidence of
a high incidence of road accidents
Thailand has a high incidence of road accidents

This mai pen rai attitude and lack of respect for the law helps explain why Thailand has such a high incidence of road accidents.

figure - an amount of money จำนวนเงิน
the previous year's figure  

improvement - when something gets better or when you make it better การปรับปรุง, การทำให้ดีขึ้น
an improvement from the previous year's figure  

According to the Department of Land Transport, the number of deaths on the roads between Sept 30, 2011, to Sept 30, 2012 was 7,784. This was an improvement from the previous year's figure of 8,305.

toll
- the number of deaths and injuries caused by a disaster, accident, disease, etc.
death toll

progress - improving and developing over time ความก้าวหน้า
made progress in reducing the death toll

significantly - in an important way อย่างสำคัญ
the number of vehicles will increase significantly this year

scheme - a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people แผนการ โครงการ
the first-car buyer scheme

Though the country has made progress in reducing the death toll, the number of vehicles will increase significantly this year due to the first-car buyer scheme

figures - statistics, numbers
road accident figures

Let's look at the road accident figures during the Songkran holidays, from April 11 to 17. Three hundred and twenty one people died and more than 3,000 people were injured across the nation.

duty - something that you have to do because it is part of your job, or something that you feel is the right thing to do หน้าที่, ความรับผิดชอบ
I think it's everyone's duty to

law enforcement - catching people who break the law and collecting evidence to prove them guilty, the aqctivity of the police

step up - increase some activity
step up law enforcement

effective - works well, gets the job done; producing the result that was intended ได้ผลดี
effective law enforcement

revise - improve, create again or recreate with improvements
improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น

I think it's everyone's duty to help reduce road accidents. Motorists should drive more responsibly and the police should step up law enforcement. And lawmakers, will you revise the laws to improve road safety and introduce more effective enforcement.

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